Long division: Digital disparity puts Tassie last

Now is our chance to put a stop to increasing inequality in Tasmania and nowhere is this inequality more obvious than in Tasmanians’ ability to afford, access and navigate the Internet.

For the second year running, Tasmania holds the wooden spoon across all measures of Digital Inclusion: Access, Affordability and Digital ability.

According to the Australia Digital Inclusion Index 2017 released yesterday, Tasmania remains at the bottom nationally and the gap is growing.

“Economies do not create strong communities; they are just one element of them,” TasCOSS CEO Kym Goodes said.

“A booming economy such as Tasmania is experiencing now will not bring positive outcomes to all of us until our systems, services and supports are equally accessible, affordable and usable.

“The ADII 2017 points to clear lines along which the digital divide runs in Tasmania: If you are on a low income, are older, haven’t completed secondary school and/or are not in paid employment, you are being left behind.

“Long term change for Tasmanians is achievable.

“We now need to look deeper into how our State’s emerging prosperity and the increasing strength of our economy can be leveraged to eliminate inequality.

“Tasmania’s last place ranking in the ADII 2017 is a clear measure of one essential area where we can work to reconnect Tasmanians who have yet to share in economic, education and employment gains being felt in some areas.

“We now have the evidence in our hands; it’s time to bring together government and community to co-design responses that ensure next year’s ADII shows progress in the right direction.

“The gap between those Tasmanians who can access, use and benefit from digital connections and those who are isolated and excluded from them is growing as is the gap between Australians and Tasmanians by the same measure.”

ADII 2017 Key findings

  • Hobart’s score is the best in Tasmania, but is still 4.6 lower than the national average for cities
  • Echoing national figures, Tasmanians with lower income, employment and education levels tend to be less digitally included
  • The ADII score of Tasmanians in the lowest household income bracket is 40.5 – 9.2 points below the state average, 16 points below the national average and slightly below the comparable national figure for this income bracket (41.1)
  • Several groups in Tasmania are particularly digitally excluded with ADII scores substantially below the state average (49.7) – in ascending order they are people in low income households (40.5), older Australians (41.0), people who didn’t complete secondary school (42.7) and people not in paid employment (45.8).
  • The ADII 2017 points to clear lines along which the digital divide runs in Tasmania[1]: If you are on a low income (ADII 2017 49.7), are older (41.0), haven’t completed secondary school (42.7) and/or are not in paid employment (45.8), you are being left behind.
  • In the first three years of data collection for the ADII, Tasmanians in the lowest household income bracket recorded not only extremely low ADII scores, but declining ones. ADII scores for this cohort fell marginally between 2014 (37.6) and 2015 (37.5), before a more substantial drop in 2016 (down 2.4 points, to 35.1).
  • In 2016–2017, digital inclusion has improved for this cohort, rising 5.4 points to 40.5. This gain is primarily due to improvements in Access and Digital Ability.
  • The ADII score of Tasmanians in the lowest household income bracket is 40.5. This is 9.2 points below the state average, 16 points below the national average, and slightly below the comparable national figure for this income bracket (41.1).
  • While the ‘income gap’ between Tasmanians in low income households and the overall Tasmanian population narrowed between 2014 and 2017 (down 2.0 points), this must be viewed in the context of a negligible improvement at state level. Tasmania’s 0.9-point gain over this four-year period (from 48.8 to 49.7) is substantially below the nationwide increase of 3.8 points (from 52.7 to 56.5).

Read the full report: Australia Digital Inclusion Index 2017

[1] The State average ADII 2017 is 49.7